Last week I reviewed a bourbon cask Glen Grant that was distilled in 1985 and bottled in 2008. This week I have another Glen Grant from that era. This was distilled a year earlier but was bottled quite a bit later, in 2016 by Cadenhead’s. So, it’s not as untimely a review as the previous. It’s also not from a bourbon cask. Despite these important differences I’m interested to see if any obvious throughlines emerge from these two casks from the mid-1980s that might cause me to revise my skepticism about the notion of “distillery character”. I’m also interested to see how long-aged sherry cask Glen Grant from the mid-1980s compares to long-aged sherry cask Glen Grants from an earlier era—such as this excellent older release from Scott’s Selection.
(Cadenhead’s continues to use the -Glenlivet suffix on a number of their Speyside releases. Is this no longer prohibited?)
Glen Grant 31, 1984 (46.1%; Cadenhead’s; sherry butt #414; from a bottle split)
Nose: Raisins, stewed fruit, cinnamon and a sweet oakiness—think an old box that held dried flowers. With more time there’s quite a bit of orange peel in the stewed fruit. Gets stickier with time but also gets a bit cloying. Gets a little flatter with water.
Palate: As predicted by the nose but with far less oomph. It’s a bit flabby on the whole, in terms of both depth of flavour and texture. And with each sip there’s more oak. With time more of the citrus begins to peep through but the oak is still a bit too present. Let’s see what water does. Well, it doesn’t do anything good and if anything causes the oak to become even more pronounced.
Finish: Medium-long. Spicy oak is the main note here and it gets a bit tannic at the end. Less tannic but no less oaky with water.
Comments: Not bad but nothing special either; the nose was the best part by far. On the whole, this is not the best advertisement for later-era sherried Glen Grant or for older whisky in general. And it has little in common with the 23 yo bourbon cask from 1985 and only shares some very broad sherried strokes with the 35/36 yo sherry cask from 1967. This seems to still be available but I wouldn’t pay the asking price.
Rating: 84 points. (Much higher if I were only scoring the nose.)